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On walking into the exhibition space at the Galleon Coffee Shop, I was hit by the sense of passion Richard Oughton has for Northern Soul; the venues, the music, the dancers, the whole spectacle of the much loved and followed genre of music.

Northern Soul has a somewhat religious (in the loosest sense) following, from old timers to younger folk, or “third generation,” as Richard tells me. One of Richard’s black and white portraits is of a young teenage girl whose parents and grandparents were Northern Soul fans. The girl in the portrait wears a full skirt which is flared out as she spins to the music. Of course, the photo is a ‘still’, however you feel the sense of motion in all of Richard’s carefully captured images.

Some of the photos are simplistic. Others, however, are more complicated and timing as well as knowledge of the Northern Soul scene is necessary.  This is evident in two particular photographs featuring a jump and a high kick. The former is most specific and required Richard’s skill and keen eye to capture this flighty photo.

The photographs show that it doesn’t always have to be a fantastic venue for the Northern Soulers to have a great dance. It appears to be the love of the music, the style and the clothes, which keep the revellers interested.  Some of the images in the exhibition are in black and white while others are in rich colour (framed) and there is also a portfolio of loose, mounted photographs on show.

Richard told me of the venues he has visited where the dancers would eat copious amounts of sugary sweets to keep them going for the lengthy hours on the dance floor. Indeed, a sugar rush would be required to compete with the music and your fellow dancers. As a gesture, Richard provided sweets for his guests at the opening of his exhibition.

The Northern Soul dances take place all over the north, from Wigan to Yorkshire and, of course, in Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom: “Sometimes the venue is a church hall,” Richard told me as he enthused about his love of visiting the variety of venues.

Richard’s passion for photography is apparent in this show, and his technical knowledge was brought to light when he spoke about the details of capturing of specific shots.  This series of photographs will appeal to Northern Soulers, photography lovers and will whet the appetite of many others to both subjects.  Visit The Galleon Coffee Shop on Topping Street to see the exhibition.  It runs until 31 March.

Images by Jill Reidy of Two Old Birds with Cameras Photography.

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    Local artist, (painting, drawing, collage, and occasional photography, (for reference), of landscape, and abstract, in oil, acrylic, and any other medium which captures my imagination. Contributor, and writer for altBlackpool. Collector, of sometimes anything, but mostly pot, and ceramics.

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